Ahh, the morning cup o’ joe: hot, dark, and a formidable jump start to the day. Coffee’s good for you but it does have its drawbacks.
Unless you’re one of those people who bounds out of bed refreshed, singing and dancing into the new day, you may want a little boost to get you going and alert. If a change from coffee sounds worth a try, below are some alternatives.
Right up front: energy drinks are a terrible choice at any time of day. They have been linked to many health problems, including heart strain, palpitations, headaches, and tooth decay with toxic ingredients like sugar and high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and plenty of synthetic vitamins and other questionable junk.
For more healthful, nourishing energizers, consider these.
Apples contain natural sugars, fiber, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and enough calories to get your body started in the morning—without a crash later.
Citrus (orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, etc.) have loads of vitamin C, antioxidants, and natural sugars to support your immune system and wake you up.
Lemon’s magnesium and potassium support brain function to get all the synapses firing.
Matcha is a powdered green tea loaded with nutrients. It contains caffeine but much less than coffee. Amino acid L-theanine as found in matcha “has a significant effect on the general state of mental alertness or arousal.
Furthermore, alpha activity is known to play an important role in critical aspects of attention.” (1) Yerba mate (pronounced yerba mahtay) is a tea made from dried leaves of a South American holly.
It contains less caffeine than coffee but more than black tea. Yerba mate contains a range of beneficial phytochemicals, including mild stimulant alkaloids; immune system-supporting saponins; antioxidant polyphenols; and amino acids.
It’s been drunk to spur energy and enhance athletic performance. (2) Studies on yerba mate are mixed; if you choose this tea, drink in moderation. (3)
3. Dark chocolate
For breakfast? You betcha.
We’re not talking about a bowl full of sugary chocolate crisped rice that makes noise when you add milk, but raw cocoa.
Packed with antioxidants known for moderating blood sugar levels and promoting cardiovascular health, there is some caffeine in there as well.
The phytochemical phenylethylamine promotes endorphin production—a happy hormone—so you may be able to start singing and dancing shortly after getting out of bed.
Mix raw organic cocoa powder to taste with a heaping teaspoon of honey and stir in a cup of hot water for a yummy nutritious change from coffee.
We need protein for long-lasting energy and eggs provide vitamins A, B6, B12, D, and minerals calcium, iron, and magnesium for promoting metabolism of nutrients and eye and bone health.
A little egg will make you feel full for a while so you won’t have a craving for a sugary doughnut or nutrient-poor bagel.
The B complex of vitamins is necessary to break down foods for energy and B12 is especially important for brain function and mood regulation. (4) Adding some nutritional yeast to your eggs will give them a cheesy flavor and a whack of B12.
5. Other energy breakfast foods
A bagel with cream cheese and lox isn’t an optimal breakfast but the (wild) salmon part is right on. With protein and omega-3 fats, your body will have a complex source of energy from which to draw for the whole morning.
A breakfast smoothie can be supremely energizing and delicious, giving your body the nutrition wake-up call. Before you even drink it, the noise of the blender will jolt grogginess right on out. The fruits, vegetables, and seeds you put in a smoothie serve to alkalize your body, providing energy and feeding every cell.
If you’re used to drinking coffee first thing in the morning, you may not be optimizing its caffeine burst: the brain secretes hormones to wake you up; this begins a process of your whole body being called into action.
If you eat a nutritious breakfast first and follow with a cup of coffee an hour or so later, you’ll maintain the natural energy level begun with the metabolic processes and reinforced with the intake of food. Just in time for your mid-day walk.